We lead busy lives that leave us zapped of energy and rundown, if not completely exhausted. The worst part is that sometimes the more tired you are the harder it can be to fall asleep or get a good, solid night’s sleep. Seems counter intuitive, right? But being overtired can actually be a deterrent to relaxing and sleeping well. That’s in addition to the myriad other causes of modern living that give us trouble sleeping. From artificial light to jam-packed schedules, our bodies are running on high alert pretty much all of the time. If you’ve tried all the classic standby sleep remedies like counting sheep, meditation and aromatherapy, maybe it’s time for something a little bit outside of the box.
1. Drop the temperature
One thing many people don’t consider is that their bedroom may be too warm. Especially in the colder months, when indoor heating is running consistently, we can have trouble gauging what is a good temperature for sleeping. Or worse, sometimes to keep on part of the house comfortable another room may become too warm. It’s actually easier and more comfortable to sleep if the room is cooler but you have a good weight of blankets to keep you warm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the most comfortable sleeping temperature lies somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees (personal preference permitting). Keep a fan in your room to manage the temperature through all seasons. It will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
2. Weighted blankets
This one isn’t for anyone who is claustrophobic, but for the rest of you who have trouble relaxing, suffer from anxiety or panic disorders, or just like a nice tight hug, this one is for you. Weighted blankets have increased in popularity of late, the calming benefits becoming more widely celebrated by insomnia and anxiety sufferers everywhere. Why not just pile on a bunch of blankets until they’re nice and heavy, you ask? Because you’ll roast to death. Weighted blankets are made specifically to help you stay cool while providing the soothing heaviness to calm your body and help you sleep.
3. 4-7-8 breathing
Ready? This is exactly what it sounds like. Breath in for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Take a full eight seconds to release that breath. Repeat until you fall asleep. This regulates your breathing (obviously) and in turn regulates your heartbeat. Once your breathing and heartbeat are slowed your body can enter a resting state for better, undisturbed, solid sleep.
4. Cut screen time
Screen time isn’t just disrupting our kids’ lives. The blue light emitted from screens – yes all of them, television, computer, tablet and smartphone – affects our circadian rhythm. In other words, that time spent on the Internet before bed keeps you awake longer than just the duration of the 25 successive videos of cats falling off of things that you just watched. If you absolutely must use a screened device at least use blue light blocking glasses and give yourself a fighting chance. Otherwise, follow your own rules, use your self control, and cut screen time an hour or two before bed. Be wild, read a book or something, instead.
Sounds mechanical, but it’s really not complicated. Autogenics is the practice of using your mind to create a sensation of heaviness and relaxation. It’s the same concept of the weighted blankets without the blanket. The feeling heaviness in your limbs and body will not only relax your mind but release tension throughout your body so that you sleep more comfortably and better throughout the night.
Tapping is exactly what it sounds like: Using your fingers to gently tap in a rhythmic pattern on specific points on your body. This acts as a sort of acupressure, if you will, releasing tension from parts of the body, but it also helps regulate your heartbeat and breathing which is instrumental to calming your body to help you sleep. An easy beginner approach is to tap with two fingers on your chest, right above your heart, while taking slow measured breaths.There are a lot of videos online for more extensive lessons on tapping, but simple and straight forward is always a safe route.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. No, it’s not some new for of artificial intelligence. It’s actually a physiological response to certain sounds (whispering, tapping, crinkling paper, clicking, eating/mouth sounds etc) and visual stimulation (eye contact, fluttering hands, colors, fabric textures, and so on) experienced by about forty percent of the population. It’s usually described as a tingling or sensation of relaxation at the back of the neck and base of the skull. ASMR has taken a lot of flack lately as it has come more into the public eye, as with all things that gain internet popularity, but millions of people worldwide use the relaxing, mesmerizing affects of ASMR to help them cope with insomnia and sleep better.